- The city of Portland, Maine, is scrambling to keep up with a homeless crisis, along with arrivals of migrants in need of city services.
- The city continues to open up new shelter space and move migrants out to other areas, as well.
- “The influx of asylum seekers has grown every year since Portland became a sanctuary city and currently the homeless shelter is full of asylum seekers,” Carol Waig, who runs nonprofit My Fathers Hands, which helps the homeless population in Portland, told the DCNF.
PORTLAND, Maine — What’s happening at the border isn’t staying at the border. Thousands of miles north, Maine’s largest city faces a two-pronged crisis as a crush of illegal immigrants has overcrowded homeless shelters and created sprawling tent cities where crime and open drug use run rampant.
The city received more than 1,000 migrants between January and April, according to the city, many of which receive housing and public resources. There are currently around 225 tents making up Portland’s homeless encampments, and individuals inside the encampments, as well as an advocate for the homeless, told the DCNF that there aren’t enough resources to address both problems.
“The influx of asylum seekers has grown every year since Portland became a sanctuary city and currently the homeless shelter is full of asylum seekers,” Carol Waig, who runs nonprofit My Fathers Hands, which helps the homeless population in Portland, told the DCNF.
There were roughly 4,400 homeless individuals in the state of Maine as of January 2022, compared to roughly 2,000 in 2021, according to the Maine State Housing Authority, which says the sharp increase is “likely reflective of a surge in asylum seeking immigrants.”
The city recently created a new emergency shelter to free up 100 to 125 beds, according to its website. It also began busing migrants out of Portland in August, sending them from a temporary emergency shelter in a basketball arena to motels in other areas of the state, Lewiston and Freeport, according to the Associated Press.
“Our staff have been completely at capacity in terms of who they’re able to shelter and assist,” Jessica Grondin, city spokesperson, told the AP at the time.
“People from other countries come here, automatically get housing, get free care, free everything, it’s not right,” Bryce, who said he is homeless in Portland and that he came to the U.S. legally and went through a 10-year citizenship process, told the DCNF of the influx of migrants.
One large homeless encampment in Portland is filled with needles, naloxone used to reverse overdoses and needle disposal containers, the DCNF observed. Drug use is rampant among the camp, one of its residents, who went by Harold, told the DCNF.